Kolkata: Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee tweeted on Sunday, the occasion of Child Protection Day, that her government was the first in India to have launched State Action Plan for Children and has taken several important initiatives in combating human trafficking of women and children.”We are observing Child Protection Day today (Sunday). In December 2014, the #Bangla Govt launched State Action Plan for Children 2014-2018, the first state in India to do so. The state government has undertaken several important initiatives in combating human trafficking of women and children,” Banerjee tweeted. Also Read – City bids adieu to Goddess DurgaIt may be mentioned that the state Women and Child Development & Social Welfare department is trying to have a database of the private placement agencies and for this it has sought assistance from the Labour department. A draft regarding the plan has already been submitted to the department. A number of women go missing and then are trafficked with the lure of lucrative jobs. It was December 2014 when the department had launched State Plan of Action Against Human Trafficking in Women and Children (SPAHT) as a pilot project in Jalpaiguri and South 24-Parganas. Buoyed by the good response, the department is now escalating the project in the other districts as well. Also Read – Centuries-old Durga Pujas continue to be hit among revellersUNICEF is the state government’s key technical partner in the SPAHT process and various NGOs working with women and child trafficking have also been roped in. “There are Child Protection Committees (CPCs) in every block in the state, which will be organising meetings to finalise the action plan,” an official in the department said. The committee consists of teachers, doctors, anganwadi workers etc. The implementation of SPAHT is visualised through the convergence of various departments and agencies, where victims remain central. The department has already come out with a handbook, stating clearly the responsibilities of government departments like Youth Affairs, School Education, Home, Panchayat & Rural Development, Urban Development, Public Works Department, Health & Family Welfare and Industries, to curb child and human trafficking. The SPAHT uses a child-rights framework to comprehensively map the responsibilities of key government departments that are tasked with affirmative action for children. These responsibilities are operationalised through the implementation of central and state government schemes, as well as specific actions taking into account the local needs and critical issues of the states.
Kolkata: The state Criminal Investigation Department (CID) has nabbed another accused person in connection with the murder of Nimta Trinamool Congress leader Nirmal Kundu, late on Saturday night. The accused, identified as Sudip Das alias Laltu, was hiding in a house at Bilaspur in Chhattisgarh, which belongs to one of his relatives.According to sources, before CID took over the investigation of Kundu’s murder, sleuths of Nimta police station had managed to arrest a person identified as Suman Kundu, who had admitted that he had hired a contract killer to murder Nirmal. After interrogating him, cops nabbed the contract killer Sujoy Das from Uttarpara. According to sources, Suman was also a Trinamool worker in Nimta, who had joined BJP a few months ago before the Lok Sabha elections. After the two arrests were made, the case was handed over to CID as per the instruction by Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who had visited Kundu’s family. After CID started the investigation, they came up with Sudip’s name from the arrested duo. He is also a resident of the area where Kundu used to live. Recently, CID sleuths got a tip from their sources that Sudip was hiding somewhere in Chhattisgarh. Working on the information, sleuths came to know that one of his relatives lives in Bilaspur. Immediately, a team from CID went to Bilaspur on Saturday. Late on Saturday night, sleuths nabbed Sudip and produced him before a local court there with appeal for transit remand. According to CID, three days transit remand has been allowed and soon Sudip will be brought to CID headquarters Bhavani Bhavan in Kolkata. Later, sleuths may appeal to the Barrackpore Court for his police custody. Kundu was reportedly shot dead by two miscreants on June 4 at Patna Thakurtala area in Nimta. According to local residents, he was talking with his neighbours near his house on Tuesday evening. At around 6:30 pm, two bike riders came there and suddenly fired two shots at Kundu. Before anybody could react, the miscreants fled from the scene. Kundu was rushed to a private hospital near Belgharia, where doctors declared him brought dead.
Washington: Melting of Himalayan glaciers has doubled since the start of the 21st century due to rising temperatures, losing over a vertical foot and half of ice each year and potentially threatening water supply for hundreds of millions of people in countries including India, a study has found.The analysis, spanning 40 years of satellite observations across India, China, Nepal and Bhutan, is the latest and perhaps most convincing indication that climate change is eating the Himalayas’ glaciers, researchers said. Also Read – Cong may promise farm loan waiver in HaryanaIt indicates that glaciers have been losing the equivalent of more than a vertical foot and half of ice each year since 2000 — double the amount of melting that took place from 1975 to 2000. “This is the clearest picture yet of how fast Himalayan glaciers are melting over this time interval, and why,” said Joshua Maurer, a PhD candidate at Columbia University in the US. While not specifically calculated in the study, the glaciers may have lost as much as a quarter of their enormous mass over the last four decades, said Maurer, lead author of the study published in the journal Science Advances. Also Read – Modi formed OBC commission which earlier govts didn’t do: ShahCurrently harbouring some 600 billion tonnes of ice, the Himalayas are sometimes called the earth’s “Third Pole.” The study synthesises data from across the region, stretching from early satellite observations to the present. The synthesis indicates that the melting is consistent in time and space, and that rising temperatures are to blame. Temperatures vary from place to place, but from 2000 to 2016 they have averaged one degree Celsius higher than those from 1975 to 2000. Researchers analysed repeat satellite images of some 650 glaciers spanning 2,000 kilometers from west to east. Many of the 20th-century observations came from recently declassified photographic images taken by US spy satellites. They created an automated system to turn these into 3D models that could show the changing elevations of glaciers over time. They then compared these images with post-2000 optical data from more sophisticated satellites, which more directly convey elevation changes. They found that from 1975 to 2000, glaciers across the region lost an average of about 0.25 metres of ice each year in the face of slight warming. Following a more pronounced warming trend starting in the 1990s, starting in 2000 the loss accelerated to about half a metre annually. Recent yearly losses have averaged about 8 billion tonnes of water, or the equivalent 3.2 million Olympic-size swimming pools, said Maurer. Asian nations are burning ever-greater loads of fossil fuels and biomass, sending soot into the sky, researchers said. Much of it eventually lands on snowy glacier surfaces, where it absorbs solar energy and hastens melting. Researchers compiled temperature data during the study period from ground stations and then calculated the amount of melting that observed temperature increases would be expected to produce. They then compared those figures with what actually happened. They matched. “It looks just like what we would expect if warming were the dominant driver of ice loss,” Maurer said. The Himalayas are generally not melting as fast as the Alps, but the general progression is similar, say the researchers. The study does not include the huge adjoining ranges of high-mountain Asia such as the Pamir, Hindu Kush or Tian Shan, but other studies suggest similar melting is underway there as well. Some 800 million people depend in part on seasonal runoff from Himalayan glaciers for irrigation, hydropower and drinking water. The accelerated melting appears so far to be swelling runoff during warm seasons, but scientists project that this will taper off within decades as the glaciers lose mass. This will eventually lead to water shortages. Even on Mount Everest, long-lost corpses of climbers who failed to return are emerging from melting ice and snow along trails. The study shows that “even glaciers in the highest mountains of the world are responding to global air temperature increases driven by the combustion of fossil fuels,” said Joseph Shea, a glacial geographer at the University of Northern British Columbia in Canadia who was not involved in the study. “In the long term, this will lead to changes in the timing and magnitude of streamflow in a heavily populated region,” said Shea.
San Francisco: Facebook has begun addressing sensational and misleading nutrition, health and fitness claims on its platform by lowering them in your News Feed. The social networking platform said has made two ranking updates to reduce posts with exaggerated or sensational health claims and posts attempting to sell products or services based on health-related claims. “For the first update, we consider if a post about health exaggerates or misleads — for example, making a sensational claim about a miracle cure,” Facebook said in a blog post late Tuesday. Also Read – Spotify rolls out Siri support, new Apple TV app “For the second update, we consider if a post promotes a product or service based on a health-related claim a” for example, promoting a medication or pill claiming to help you lose weight,” it added. Facebook is handling such health posts in a similar way it has claimed to previously reduce low-quality content like click-bait. “We identify phrases that were commonly used in these posts to predict which posts might include sensational health claims or promotion of products with health-related claims, and then showing these lower in News Feed,” said the company. Also Read – New Instagram tool to help users spot phishing emails According to Facebook, most Pages won’t see any significant changes to their distribution in News Feed as a result of this update. “Posts with sensational health claims or solicitation using health-related claims will have reduced distribution,” it added. Pages should avoid posts about health that exaggerate or mislead people and posts that try to sell products using health-related claims. “If a Page stops posting this content, their posts will no longer be affected by this change,” said Facebook.
NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Friday asked DDA to clarify whether it is agreeable to the EPCA proposal for increasing financial contribution of the DDA in three priority corridors of the fourth phase of the Delhi Metro project. The Environment Pollution Control Authority (EPCA), in its recent report filed in the apex court, has said that the total share of Delhi government in the three corridors is around Rs 7,844.07 crore but the Delhi Cabinet in December 2018 approved only Rs 5,994.50 crore. “Therefore, the difference in financial terms is at most Rs 1,800 crore, which constitutes some 7% of the total project cost of these three key corridors,” the EPCA said. Also Read – Gurdwara Bangla Sahib bans single use plasticIt said DDA has agreed to pay Rs 5,000 crore for the six corridors and “its contribution for the first three corridors could be increased to either partially or completely taking on the difference between the Delhi cabinet approved cost for the three corridors as against the final approved cost”. The 103.94 km long phase-IV of Delhi metro will consist of six corridors – Aerocity to Tughlakabad; Inderlok to Indraprastha; Lajpat Nagar to Saket G Block; Mukundpur to Maujpur; Janakpuri West to R K Ashram and Rithala to Bawana and Narela. The Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA) had on March 9 this year approved the 61.66 km, three priority corridors –Aerocity to Tughlakabad, R K Ashram to Janakpuri (west) and Mukundpur to Maujpur –at a cost of Rs 24,948.65 crore.
Thiruvananthapuram: Thushar Vellapally, President of Bharath Dharma Jana Sena (BDJS), a coalition partner of the BJP-led NDA in Kerala, has been arrested in UAE in connection with an alleged Rs 19 crore cheque bounce case.Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Thursday wrote to External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar, seeking his intervention in the matter. Vellapally is also the Vice President of the Sree Narayana Dharma Paripalana (SNDP) Yogam, a prominent organisation of the backward Ezhava community in the state. Also Read – Uddhav bats for ‘Sena CM’The arrest was on a complaint from N Abdulla of Thrissur in an alleged Rs 19 crore cheque bounce case of 2009 when Vellapally was running a construction business in Ajman in the UAE, according to media reports. Thushar Vellapally had unsuccessfully contested as the NDA candidate from Wayanad in the Lok Sabha elections in April 23 this year, in which Congress leader Rahul Gandhi had emerged triumphant. In the letter, a copy of which was released to the media here, Vijayan expressed concern about the well being and health of Thushar Vellapally. “News channels have reported the arrest of Shri Thushar Vellapally, Vice President of Sree Narayana Dharma Paripalana (SNDP) yogam at Ajman in United Arab Emirates. I express concern about his well-being and health while in custody. All possible help within the limits of law needs to be made available to him. I request your kind personal attention and intervention in this regard”, Vijayan said in the letter.
Islamabad: Pakistan on Friday said that despite tensions with India, it stands ready to open the Kartarpur Corridor and welcome the Sikh pilgrims to take part in celebrations in connection with the 550th birth anniversary of Baba Guru Nanak. Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said this while speaking to a delegation of civil society and parliamentarians of Afghanistan, which is currently visiting Pakistan for the ‘Track-II dialogue, Beyond Boundaries’. Also Read – India gets first tranche of Swiss bank a/c details Tension between India and Pakistan has escalated after New Delhi revoked Article 370 of the Constitution which gave special status to Jammu and Kashmir and bifurcated the state into two Union Territories on August 5. “Despite our tensions with India, we have decided go ahead with Kartarpur Corridor and we stand ready to welcome the Sikh pilgrims for the 550th anniversary of Baba Guru Nanak,” Qureshi told the delegation. The Kartarpur corridor will connect Darbar Sahib in Pakistan’s Kartarpur with Dera Baba Nanak shrine in Gurdaspur district and facilitate visa-free movement of Indian Sikh pilgrims, who will have to just obtain a permit to visit Kartarpur Sahib, which was established in 1522 by Guru Nanak Dev. Also Read – Tourists to be allowed in J&K from Thursday Pakistan is building the corridor from the Indian border to the Gurdwara Darbar Sahib while the other part from Dera Baba Nanak up to the border will be constructed by India. Qureshi also told the delegation that current tension with India will not affect Pakistan’s relationship with Afghanistan. Border (with Afghanistan) will not be closed nor trade will stop. Why should Afghans suffer because of the idiosyncratic behaviour of Narendra Modi, Qureshi was quoted as saying. Despite tensions with India, Pakistan is totally focused on the situation and its role in Afghanistan. It (Kashmir situation) can be a huge distraction but we are very clear what we need to do in Afghanistan, he added while responding to a question if escalation of tension with India can distract Pakistan. Qureshi said that Pakistan did not believe in any strategic depth. We want good neighbourly relations with Afghanistan and peaceful co-existence. We have no favourites in the upcoming election. It is not our business who governs Afghanistan. We will not interfere. Whoever you [Afghanistan] will choose, we will work with them.” The foreign minister emphasised that honesty was the best way forward between the two countries. It is foolish to think we can trick each other, he said, adding that blaming each other was not an option. Accusatory statement will not help each other. He also said that we do not want Talibanisation of any region but they [Taliban] are Afghans and they are a reality . He added: We will also support intra-Afghan dialogue. The process has to be Afghan-owned and Afghan-led. Qureshi told the delegation that he had invited the foreign ministers of Afghanistan’s and China for a trilateral meeting. The foreign minister will come to Pakistan in the first week of September for the talks, he added.
New Delhi: One in two police personnel surveyed feel that Muslims are likely to be “naturally prone” to committing crimes, the 2019 Status of Policing in India Report has found.It also found that 35 per cent of police personnel interviewed for the survey think it is natural for a mob to punish the “culprit” in cases of cow slaughter, and 43 per cent think it is natural for a mob to punish someone accused of rape. The report on police adequacy and working conditions, prepared by the NGO Common Cause and Lokniti programme of the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, was released on Tuesday by former Supreme Court judge J Chelameswar. Also Read – India gets first tranche of Swiss bank a/c details Spread across 21 states, the survey involved interviews of 12,000 police personnel in police stations and around 11,000 of their family members. The survey found that 37 per cent personnel interviewed feel that for minor offences, a small punishment should be handed out by the police rather than a legal trial. It found that 72 per cent police personnel experience “political pressure” during investigation of cases involving influential persons. Also Read – Tourists to be allowed in J&K from Thursday “One committed officer can make all the difference. But who will put that one officer there,” Justice Chelameswar said. He also narrated his experiences as a judge in dealing with cases where the police had sidestepped the rules.”What is the training we give our officers? (A) six-month crash course on civil and Criminal Procedure Codes, the (Indian) Penal Code and the Evidence Act cannot be deemed sufficient,” he said. Speaking about the need to insulate police personnel from political influence, the retired judge said: “Transfer as a form of punishment for displeasing someone is a problem. Even judges, who hold Constitutional posts, are not protected from undue transfers.” In October last year, the Delhi High Court in its landmark judgment on the Hashimpura massacre case relied on the 2018 edition of the Status of Policing in India Report to establish institutional bias of the police force against Muslims to convict 16 policemen for killing 42 people in 1987. The trial court had acquitted the policemen for lack of motive.(With inputs from Indian Express)
Kolkata: Renuka Mondal (40), a resident of Gaighata in North 24-Parganas died of dengue on Saturday.The victim had been suffering from fever for the past few days. She was taken to Habra State General Hospital. The family members later wanted to shift the patient to RG Kar Medical College and Hospital. On the way to the hospital the patient started vomiting blood and the patient was taken to a private hospital in Duttapukur. On last Friday night the patient was again shifted to another private hospital on VIP road where the patient died on Saturday. The death certificate confirmed that the patient died of acute hemmeorage with dengue shock. Also Read – Bengal family worships Muslim girl as Goddess Durga in Kumari PujaFollowing some cases of dengue deaths in the districts, the North 24-Parganas administration has taken up massive anti-dengue drive as precautionary measures. All the municipalities and Panchayat functionaries have been instructed to undertake rigorous campaigns to combat dengue and other mosquitoes-borne diseases. Following the order of District Magistrate, the administrative officials have initiated the process of using drone to conduct surveillance in the affected areas of the district. Also Read – Bengal civic volunteer dies in road mishap on national highwayAwareness campaigns are being conducted throughout the district particularly in the affected areas of Habra and adjoining parts. People have been urged to ensure that there is no empty cups, broken furniture and other used materials are kept on the rooftop or in nearby areas. The schools authorities and other educational institutions, central and state government offices have been asked to clear the roofs regularly. The officer-in-charge of different police stations have been requested to ensure that there is no accumulation of water in the area. The district administrative officials are taking report from time to time on the implementation of anti larvae drive. All the Panchayat officials and municipalities have been asked to spread awareness among people through leaflets.
NEW DELHI: The Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) has amended its directions to allow the immersion of idols taller than five feet in designated artificial ponds across the city during the festive season. The pollution control body had in July issued an order fixing the maximum height of idols at five feet. In a bid to reduce pollution load in the Yamuna, it had also asked puja organisers to immerse idols in artificial ponds created at 128 sites across Delhi’s 11 revenue districts. Also Read – After eight years, businessman arrested for kidnap & murderIn a corrigendum dated August 28, the DPCC said puja samitis (committees) have approached various forums to reconsider the size of idols which are to be immersed at the designated sites. A committee headed by the Director, Environment, examined the issue at a meeting on August 22. “Taking into consideration the submission of puja samitis that five-feet height would restrict the glimpse of Maa Durga during large gatherings, the panel recommended an increase in the size of idols for immersion, provided all other directions are complied with rigorously,” the DPCC said. Also Read – Two brothers held for snatchings”For the idol of size more than 5 feet, the puja samitis concerned have to ensure that all pollution norms are strictly adhered to and its immersion is done in designated artificial pond suitable for such size in consultation with and under overall supervision of the district magistrate concerned,” it said. Tests conducted by the Central Pollution Control Board showed that the concentration of metals such as lead, chromium, mercury and nickel had shot up by several times in the Yamuna, rendering the river unfit, even for bathing.
New Delhi: Despite Pakistans desperate attempts to fuel trouble in Jammu and Kashmir, security forces have maintained dominance on the situation there ever since the states special status was abolished about 40 days back. Except for sporadic terror attacks targeting civilians and some stone pelting incidents, the Kashmir Valley has been peaceful, according to the Jammu and Kashmir administration and the Army. On August 6, Parliament approved abolition of the special status of Jammu and Kashmir, granted under Article 370 of the Indian Constitution, and bifurcated the state into two Union Territories – Jammu and Kashmir Union Territory with a legislature and Ladakh Union Territory without a legislature. Also Read – India gets first tranche of Swiss bank a/c details In apprehension of trouble because of the Centre’s historic step, Jammu and Kashmir was placed under unprecedented security cover, involving deployment of about 28,000 additional personnel of central paramilitary forces. The restrictions have since been eased to a significant extent but the security forces have not allowed any major incident to disrupt peace despite attempts. The Jammu and Kashmir police on September 12 foiled possibly a major terror attack when it intercepted a truck on the basis of a specific input and recovered a large quantity of arms and ammunition, including 6 AK assault rifles, six magazines and 180 bullets. Also Read – Tourists to be allowed in J&K from Thursday The truck was on its way from Pathankot in Punjab to Kashmir Valley when it was intercepted in Kathua area of Jammu region. The police also arrested three activists of Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) who were travelling in the truck. JeM was the terror group that carried out the ghastly suicide bomb attack on a CRPF convoy on the Jammu-Srinagar National Highway in Pulwama district of Kashmir on February 14, killing 40 personnel of the force. There have been five civilian deaths during this period, either in terror attack or in stone-pelting incidents, according to the J&K administration and the Army. In the third week of August, two nomads belonging to the Bakarwal community, Abdul Qadir Kohli and Manzoor Ahmad Kohli, were abducted and killed by the terrorists. A 42-year-old lorry driver, Noor Mohammed Dar, was killed by stone pelters in Anantnag on August 25. On August 29, terrorists killed a shopkeeper Ghulam Mohammed (65) in Parimpora, Srinagar. Another civilian, Asrar Ahmad Khan, was injured in stone-pelting on August 6. He was hospitalized and succumbed to injuries on September 4. An apple trader’s family was targeted by terrorists in Sopore in Kashmir, leaving four of its members, including a minor girl, injured. Within days, security forces killed Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) terrorist Asif Maqbool Bhat in an encounter on September 11, saying he was responsible for the attack on the trader’s family. The encounter took place two days after the Jammu and Kashmir Police, along with the Army and other security forces, arrested eight LeT terrorists from the Sopore region, busting a module of the Pakistan-based terror outfit. Even though violence in the hinterland of Jammu and Kashmir has been contained, there is military escalation on the Line of Control (LoC) because of the surge in ceasefire violations by Pakistan and its attempts to push in terrorists. As per the data available till August 30, there were 222 ceasefire violations since the special status of Jammu and Kashmir was withdrawn. Prior to this, the highest number of ceasefire violations (296) was recorded in the month of July. According to security agencies, the ceasefire violations by Pakistan are mostly intended to give cover fire to the terrorists infiltrating into India.
MONTREAL – Quebec’s coroner confirmed late Monday that two men died in a plane crash on Sunday about 10 kilometres from Schefferville, Que.Bernard Lefrancois did not release the pilots’ names and said the investigation was still in its early stages.Police spokesman Jean Tremblay said earlier Monday that two planes carrying mining employees were heading to the Schefferville airport late Sunday, but only one arrived.Tremblay said the wreckage was spotted by a search helicopter that was not able to land. Rescuers used snowmobiles to reach the plane and did not see any signs of life from the occupants.Both provincial police and a team from the Transportation Safety Board of Canada were heading to the site to investigate the cause of the crash.Schefferville is located about 600 kilometres north of Sept-Iles.
HOUSTON – Canadian expats living in Texas said they’ve gone days without sleep as the remnants of hurricane Harvey continue to deluge the southeast coast Sunday.Megan Giffin-Scheffers, who moved from Halifax to Houston four years ago, said “everything is overflowing” in the Texas city, which is the fourth-largest in the U.S., as rising waters force thousands of people out of their homes.Giffin-Scheffers, a mother of three, said she hasn’t slept properly in two days as she and her husband take shifts on the lookout for signs of danger.Every time her phone lights up with a tornado alert, her family has to hunker down in their pantry as wind gusts howl through the city like “freight trains,” she said.“As Canadians … I don’t think we really understood the impact of a hurricane,” Giffin-Scheffers said in a phone interview. “I’m homesick every single day, and when something like this happens, that’s just when I want to pack up and move back.”Canadian astronaut Joshua Kutryk, who is training in Houston, posted photos to social media of neighbourhoods flooded with murky waters that almost fully submerged a car.“Feeling like an ant in an anthill today, here by the grace of Mother Nature,” he tweeted. “Sometimes we get stepped on.”Isabelle Dion, who is from Saint-Césaire, Que., says her home in Houston has been spared from damage, but it’s scary not to know what will happen when night falls.“Imagine a shower that’s full capacity and it never stops,” said Dion. “Tornado warnings, and tornado warnings. Every five minutes of the night your cell phone goes on, and it’s very difficult.”Canadian engineer Raihan Khondker said his family safely left their home in southeastern Texas, but he returned to the Bay City area as part of a support team at a nuclear power plant.For three days, Khondker, who is from Toronto, has been working tirelessly to manage “one thing after another,” driving through water-choked streets to help out where he can.Khondker said houses in his neighbourhood have been turned “upside down,” and rising waters in a nearby river threaten to send a potentially catastrophic flood into the area.“Every single creek in the neighbourhood is full,” he said. “There is an imminent flood coming to Bay City, we just don’t know how much water we are going to see.”Harvey slammed into Texas as a Category-4 hurricane Friday and has since been downgraded to a tropical storm, which is causing torrential rains.— With files from The Associated Press
Six stories in the news for Wednesday, Sept. 6———LATEST NAFTA TALKS WRAP WITH WORD OF PROGRESSThe latest round of NAFTA negotiations have wrapped up in Mexico City with the three countries declaring they have made progress ahead of the next round in Ottawa later this month. While sources say there has been no serious movement yet on any of the more sensitive issues, the countries say they have tabled two dozen texts that will form the backbone of the chapters in a modernized North American Free Trade Agreement.———AIR TRANSAT LAUNCHES HURRICANE AIRLIFTAir Transat has launched an evacuation operation to get all its travellers out of the Dominican Republic ahead of hurricane Irma. The Montreal-based airline says it is sending 10 aircraft to the Caribbean nation — seven to Punta Cana, two to Puerto Plata and one to Samana. Air Transat says all aircraft should arrive in the Dominican Republic by this morning and passengers should be back in Canada by afternoon or early evening.———CENTRAL BANK POISED TO MAKE RATE ANNOUNCEMENTSome experts expect the Bank of Canada to boost its trend-setting rate today, not later this fall as they had anticipated. They’ve changed their forecasts due to a surprisingly powerful performance from the Canadian economy. Last week, the latest growth numbers showed the economy expanded at an annual pace of 4.5 per cent in the second quarter — a bigger-than-expected surge driven by consumer spending.———POLL: HALF OF WORKERS LIVING PAYCHEQUE TO PAYCHEQUEA new survey by the Canadian Payroll Association suggests nearly half of workers are living paycheque to paycheque due to soaring spending and debt levels. The poll found that 47 per cent of respondents said it would be difficult to meet their financial obligations if their paycheque was delayed by even a single week. The summer survey of 4,766 Canadian also found that 35 per cent said they feel overwhelmed by their level of debt.———HELP FOR B.C. RANCHERS HURT BY WILDFIRESRanchers who have lost animals and land to the wildfires in British Columbia are getting help from the provincial and federal governments. The governments are setting aside $20 million to help farmers replace lost breeding animals and re-seed damaged lands. Agriculture Minister Lawrence MacAulay says the money will also help ranchers with vet bills, feed, fencing, transportation and infrastructure not covered by insurance.———‘GRABHER’ LICENSE PLATE CASE BACK IN COURTA legal battle over whether Nova Scotia violated the constitution when it ruled a man’s personalized licence plate was offensive to women is expected back in court today with fresh arguments. Lorne Grabher had his licence plate with the text “GRABHER” — his last name — revoked last year after government officials agreed with a complainant that it was a “socially unacceptable slogan.” Grabher’s lawyers say the regulation is so vague that it violates the freedom of expression guarantee in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.———ALSO IN THE NEWS TODAY:— Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will attend the National Caucus meeting in Kelowna, B.C.— The federal Conservatives shadow cabinet will meet in Winnipeg.— StatsCanada will update several indicators today, including Canadian international merchandise trade for July.— The Fraser Institute will release studies examining education spending in Ontario, Quebec, Alberta and British Columbia.— The Nova Scotia Federation of Labour announces the next step to fight Bill 148, which legislates a wage pattern on 75,000 public workers.— Convenience store operator Alimentation Couche-Tard will release first-quarter results.— Sentencing in Bridgewater, N.S. today for six teens accused of sharing intimate images of up to 20 underaged girls without consent.— Hit and run trial resumes in Edmonton for MLA Derek Fildebrandt, who left the UCP to sit as an independent.— Next appearance for accused in the Chilliwack Cattle Sales case, where three farm workers were charged with animal cruelty.
ST. JOHN’S, N.L. – The federal government is spending $27 million to bring high-speed internet to around 1,500 households in 70 rural and remote communities in Newfoundland and Labrador.Federal cabinet minister Seamus O’Regan says spreading internet access to remote communities has been a priority of the Liberal government because it allows people to thrive no matter where they are.The Newfoundland MP was joined in St. John’s by Premier Dwight Ball Tuesday for the announcement, which will also see $1.57 million come from the province and $11.52 million from other contributors.Most of the federal funding comes from Connect to Innovate, a program which aims to provide speeds of five megabits per second or more to underserved communities.Ball says the improved internet access will allow residents “to become more engaged in the digital economy, seize new business opportunities, and connect with friends and family around the world.”Navdeep Bains, the Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, said access to high-speed internet is an essential, and not a luxury.“High-speed internet service is a basic tool that all Canadians should have access to, regardless of their postal code,” he said in a statement.Ball says 99 per cent of the population will now have access to broadband internet.(VOCM, The Canadian Press)
HINTON, Alta. – A western Alberta woman is urging hunters and hikers to be more aware of their surroundings after her pet husky was mistaken for a wolf and shot in the legs.Bethany Dyck was walking with two friends on Saturday along a wooded trail near Hinton, Alta., that runs parallel to an old road. The group was on its way back, when her pooch, Meka, was playing in the forest with another dog.“We were three women walking single file, talking pretty loudly,” Dyck said Wednesday. “The other dog that was with us had bells on and Meka was wearing a bright orange collar.”They heard a gunshot and ran 30 metres through the bush toward the road, where they found Meka. Blood was seeping into the snow and the animal was screaming.“It’s the worst sound I can imagine hearing coming from my pet,” Dyck recalled.A hunter was in a clearing another 30 metres from where Meka was lying.Hinton RCMP said in a news release that they were called to a rural area on Saturday where a husky had been shot.“The adult male who had fired the shot was lawfully hunting in the area at the time and mistook the dog for a wolf,” the RCMP said. “The male has co-operated with the investigation.”RCMP said no charges have been laid, but they’re asking anyone with information to contact them.Dyck said one of her friends fashioned a tourniquet out of a sock to put on Meka’s leg and they set off for the vet. Throughout the 20-minute drive, Dyck said she was watching Meka’s chest rise and fall.“She was very lucid the whole time. Her pupils never dilated. She was so clear and aware,” Dyck said.The bullet went through Meka’s front right leg, hit bone, and then passed through her rear left leg.She said the hunter stuck around and accompanied Dyck to the vet, but he told her he could only contribute $1,000 toward the bill.Vet bills so far have totalled $4,000, Dyck said. If Meka needs surgery, which will be determined in another week or two, it could be another $4,000.A GoFundMe page has been set up to help ease some of the financial burden.Dyck said she hopes her dog will be back to her usual self before too long.“Meka’s happiest when she’s in the woods off leash going for a run. It’s so obvious when she’s running how happy she is,” she said.“She has endless amounts of energy, especially when it’s -30 C. She loves people. She’s not a very affectionate dog, but she’s a really great sidekick to do any adventures.”There was a similar case of mistaken identity near Whistler, B.C., in September. But that time, a four-year-old therapy dog that resembled a wolf died of its injuries after it was shot by a hunter.Dyck said she hopes people will learn from her story.“Just because you don’t hear or see them, you have to understand that there’s other people in the woods,” she said.“So to assume that you’re by yourself on a Saturday afternoon, it’s a beautiful day outside, that there’s not going to be people walking their dogs, that’s wrong.”She said she has nothing against hunting in general.“But I’m not OK with them shooting my dog.”— By Lauren Krugel in Calgary
Canada and Mexico have been excluded from President Donald Trump’s tariffs on steel and aluminum imports.U.S. President Donald Trump signed proclamations hammering global steel and aluminum imports with tariffs of 25 and 10 per cent.The tariffs take effect in 15 days.Speaking in a briefing, a senior administration official says there’s no end date set on the exclusions.The official, speaking on condition of anonymity in order to discuss matters in advance of them being made public, would not speak to the issue of whether the threat of tariffs would be used to bully Canada and Mexico at the NAFTA bargaining table, saying only that NAFTA is important to economic and national security.The tariffs are being cast as a national security matter.A provision in U.S. law allows the president to set emergency tariffs if it’s a security issue. But the White House had been undermining its legal case in recent days. With the move sure to prompt international lawsuits and counter-measures, it’s been describing the tariffs as a NAFTA bargaining ploy.The White House is now avoiding that kind of talk.It’s also denying reports that it picked the tariff levels arbitrarily. The initial recommendation to Trump was for tariffs of 24 per cent on steel and 7 per cent on aluminum, but news reports have described the president seeking round numbers.The White House official who delivered today’s briefing says it was only upon careful consideration that Trump settled on those larger, rounder numbers of 25 and 10 per cent.He did not explain how that version squares with the fact that the round numbers remain in effect, despite the entire formula being upended by the fact that major suppliers have now been excused from the tariffs.Canada is the No. 1 seller of both steel and aluminum to the U.S.The fact that Canada could be on the initial hit list had become a political sore spot for the administration, as U.S. critics of the move ridiculed it by zeroing on the idea of national-security tariffs against a peaceful next-door neighbour and defence ally.
TORONTO — It is a bittersweet moment for Det. Sgt. Mike Carbone.A ruthless murderer he’s been investigating for years was sentenced to life earlier this week. Dellen Millard — a Toronto millionaire turned serial killer — will most likely spend the rest of his days behind bars for killing a former lover, his own father and a stranger.“I can’t understand how he actually thought he could get away with it,” says Carbone as he leans back in his chair at the Toronto police headquarters. “It’s so crazy.”And Millard almost got away with two of those murders — the presumed killing of his on-again, off-again lover Laura Babcock, whose remains were never found, in July 2012, and the fatal shooting four months later of his own father, Wayne Millard, whose death was initially deemed to be a suicide.It was only after Millard and his friend Mark Smich were arrested and charged in the spring of 2013 in the disappearance of Tim Bosma — a 32-year-old man from the Hamilton area whose body was burned in an animal incinerator — that Toronto police reopened the “suspicious” cases of Babcock and Wayne Millard.Carbone, who became the lead detective in both cases, says when the homicide squad took over those investigations, they found errors in the police handling of the initial reports.It started with Babcock’s disappearance in July 2012, when her family and her former boyfriend, Shawn Lerner, reported her missing. They gave officers phone records that showed her last eight phone calls were to Millard.Lerner said Babcock’s case went into a black hole and neither he, nor her family, got any phone calls back from the investigating officers. He later filed a complaint to the Office of the Independent Police Review Director over the Toronto police’s handling of the missing persons case. The OIPRD found evidence of misconduct “of a less serious nature” by one officer who gave Lerner a hard time when he initially tried to report Babcock missing.Carbone says police should have returned those phone calls, both as a courtesy, and because those calls could have led to more information about the 23-year-old woman.“We needed to be sensitive to their needs — it’s very important,” Carbone says.Frustrated with the lack of police efforts, Lerner took matters into his own hands. He met with Millard over coffee to discuss Babcock’s disappearance. In that meeting, Millard denied talking to Babcock in early July, until Lerner produced the phone bill.“He admitted he had spoken to her, but he says she was looking for drugs and a place to stay and he says he denied both of those requests,” Lerner said at Millard’s trial.When Millard was arrested in Bosma’s death, Lerner and Babcock’s family went back to police with Babcock’s final phone calls.That’s when Carbone got involved.“If the family had not come forward, there would be no program that would have linked the two (Millard and Babcock) together,” Carbone says. “They were key.”Carbone said Babcock’s missing persons case was deemed a “level-one,” meaning no foul play suspected, partly due to her transient lifestyle. She’d been couch-surfing for months after leaving her parents’ home, worked part-time as an escort and struggled with mental health issues.The “level one” designation legally tied the hands of police, Carbone says, as they couldn’t request a production order from a telecom company to get her phone records or to track her phone’s location.That data, which showed Babcock and Millard’s phones coming together in the hours before she went missing — became crucial evidence in both the Babcock and Wayne Millard cases, says Carbone.A jury agreed with the prosecution that Millard and Smich killed Babcock and burned her remains in the same incinerator that Bosma was later found in.“We never found anything,” Carbone says. “I wish there was something we could return to the family.”Carbone says provincial legislation could help police with missing persons cases in the future. The Missing Persons Act, which would give officers the power to retrieve phone records and other information in cases of missing persons, was introduced by the previous Liberal government but stalled after the Progressive Conservatives came to power in the spring.Earlier this year, Toronto police set up a new missing persons unit — four detectives working with the homicide squad — that Carbone calls a step in the right direction.“Certainly, putting more resources into a specific incident could never hurt,” he says.In May 2013, as the Babcock investigation was underway, Carbone says his team started looking into the suicide of Wayne Millard. They learned that police had seized a .32-calibre revolver found beside the 71-year-old’s bed. The gun had been swabbed, but the swabs were never tested.The results of the tests — later ordered by Carbone — came back with two pieces of DNA on the gun’s handle: one unknown and one belonging to Dellen Millard. Wayne Millard’s DNA was not on the gun.“It should have been submitted (for analysis),” says Carbone.Homicide investigators later found that the gun had changed hands several times until Matthew Ward-Jackson, a weapons dealer nicknamed “Iisho,” sold it to Millard the day before Babcock vanished.The coroner, Dr. David Evans, testified earlier this year that he told officers at the scene about the unusual “election site” — the name given to the location where people who die by suicide shoot themselves. Wayne Millard died by a bullet through his left eyeball that entered his brain.“That was a red flag,” Carbone says, adding police should have dug deeper.Two days after Wayne Millard was found dead, the coroner officially deemed it a suicide.For Carbone, it’s been a strange and exhausting road.“It was a long, long five years,” he says.Carbone says he’s trying to get Millard off his mind.“I’m not sure what I’m going to do with my time now,” he says, before catching himself. “Actually, I’ve got a lot of cases.” Liam Casey, The Canadian Press
OTTAWA — The Public Prosecution Service of Canada is involved in allegations of improper government influence IN two major cases: the prosecutions of Vice-Admiral Mark Norman over allegations he leaked secrets to a shipyard and of SNC-Lavalin on charges of bribery and corruption in Libya.Here are five things to know about the prosecution service and its independence:What is the Public Prosecution Service?The service is “a national, independent and accountable prosecuting authority” whose mandate is to prosecute federal offences as well as provide legal advice and assistance to law enforcement.The office may prosecute in cases covered by 250 federal statutes, although it only regularly uses about 40 of those. Its cases include money-laundering, organized crime, terrorism, and regulatory offences. Many of its cases involve drug charges under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. It also handles Criminal Code charges in the three territories, cases that are prosecuted by provincial Crown attorneys in the provinces.As of last spring, the service had over 1,000 employees. It is headquartered in Ottawa with regional offices across Canada.Formerly the Federal Prosecution Service, the 2006 Director of Public Prosecutions Act made the service formally independent of the Justice Department — it answers to the same minister but isn’t part of the same bureaucracy.What was the point of that?The prosecution service was created on Dec. 12, 2006 following a Conservative campaign promise that it would be free of political interference. This was after the sponsorship scandal, and the Tories had been elected partly on a promise that they’d clean up political corruption.“There’s going to be a new code on Parliament Hill,” prime minister Stephen Harper said at the time. “Bend the rules, you will be punished; break the law, you will be charged; abuse the public trust, you will go to prison.”Who’s in charge of it?Kathleen Roussel is its current director. A one-time criminal defence attorney who has been a government lawyer for much of her career, including in environmental law and the program that enforces gun-control rules, she was appointed in June 2017 for a term of seven years.“The relationship between the attorney general and the director is premised on respect for the independence of the prosecution function and the need to consult on important matters of general interest,” reads a news release announcing the appointment.What does the justice minister have to do with it?According to the legislation, the service’s director acts under and on behalf of the attorney general, the Crown’s chief lawyer, through whom it reports to Parliament.In Canada, the same person is both justice minister and attorney general. Some other places, such as the United Kingdom, separate the justice minister’s job from the attorney general’s, though both positions are held by politicians.Except for Canada Elections Act matters, the attorney general is allowed to direct or even personally take over prosecutions but must do so in writing and with notice published in the Canada Gazette, the official record of government decisions. For general prosecution directives, the attorney general must also consult with the director.Does this happen a lot?Not very often. But Wilson-Raybould used this power as recently as Nov. 30, with a direction in relation to HIV non-disclosure cases, telling federal prosecutors not to pursue charges against people with HIV who have sex without informing their partners, as long as the circumstances were such that there was virtually no chance of transmitting the illness.The law didn’t change but the instruction to federal prosecutors — which only applied in the handful of jurisdictions where they handle criminal cases — changed the way it is applied.Stephen Cook, The Canadian Press
OTTAWA — Several Indigenous leaders say former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould was deeply brave in her explosive testimony on the SNC-Lavalin affair, but they’re steering clear of criticizing the Trudeau government.Wilson-Raybould had been the highest-ranking Indigenous person ever in the Canadian government.Wednesday, she told the House of Commons justice committee she faced relentless, inappropriate pressure from Trudeau and several top aides, the Privy Council Office and the office of Finance Minister Bill Morneau, asking her to politically interfere in the criminal prosecution of SNC-Lavalin.National Chief Perry Bellegarde of the Assembly of First Nations says he witnessed integrity, strength and courage while watching Wilson-Raybould testify.The Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations executive also issued a statement of support, applauding Wilson-Raybould for displaying ethics and integrity and calling her a role model for all First Nations and future generations.Clement Chartier, president of the Metis National Council, said he felt the fact Wilson-Raybould is an Indigenous woman does not make the SNC-Lavalin affair an Indigenous issue and that leaders are focused on reconciliation through measures such as new legislation to revitalize Indigenous languages and keep First Nations children out of foster care.The Canadian Press